So Marvel announced their new online comic service today. 1000’s of back issues online for 10 bucks a month or a yearly fee of 60 bucks. It’s getting tons of press, Howard Stern mentioned it this morning and I’m sure the Marvel folks are beaming with joy at the reception their latest online business venture is getting.
What do I think about it? It’s a nice try. Looking back, I wasn’t crazy about DC’s Zuda announcement, but at least you’re getting quality original content by top quality creators for free. Marvel is offering Amazing Fantasy 15 for 10 bucks.
I just can’t figure out what these big companies are thinking. How long can they sidestep the question of bringing in new young readers? Just because it’s online doesn’t make it appealing to kids. The Internet is like television for kids today, there’s cool stuff online and there’s historychannel.com. Honestly do they think they’re going to get kids to stop playing Halo 3 by offering them the first 60 issues of Fantastic Four? Hell, I love Stan and Jack as much as the next geek but is your average 13 year old is going to read that stuff? They can watch or play the video game version of Spider-Man 3 or they can read the issue where Spidey defeated the Sandman with an industrial vacuum.
I’m on the extreme side of the online comics debate. I think they can put the latest issue of Amazing Spider-Man online the say day it hits stands and sales won’t see a massive shift in numbers. The average reader is going to treat these online books like previews or a movie trailer. If they dig the book, they’ll buy it next month at their shop. I can’t remember ever hearing someone say they’d rather read a book online than physically hold it in their hands.
Maybe putting the entire issue online won’t ever happen but how about putting the first 7 to 11 pages online the day it hits stands? Maybe you’d try that book you’re on the fence about. This could even blow up that whole “writing for the trade” thing, as well. No more slow pacing fellas… hook your reader in 11 pages if you want to see a bump in sales.
Nevertheless, at the end of the day I have to remember that online comics are in their infancy and corporate comics don’t have the know-how or balls to take a risk with this stuff. It’ll take someone else to take a risk and get rewarded for it before the Big 2 hop on the bandwagon.
In the meantime, good luck getting a 12-year-old to read an issue of Uncanny X-Men from the Nixon Administration.